Heroin addicted degree student and ex-fitness coach stole to fund habit

Benjamin Douglas stole clothing to pay off a drug debt  Picture: ARCHANT

Benjamin Douglas stole clothing to pay off a drug debt Picture: ARCHANT

Copyright 2012

A degree student and former personal trainer, who turned to shoplifting to fund heroin addiction, has been granted an appeal for help to kick the habit.

Benjamin Douglas stole 16 pairs of £8.99 jeans from H&M in Tavern Street, Ipswich, at 5.20pm on March 16.

The 30-year-old, currently living in supported accommodation at Cavendish Lodge, was then caught stealing a Black & Decker saw worth £29.99 from a B&M Home Store on March 30.

Douglas admitted both thefts when interviewed by police, telling officers he sold the jeans to pay off a drug debt.

He pleaded guilty to the charges at Suffolk Magistrates' Court, where he had previously appeared for shoplifting in January.

Solicitor Larissa Hutson said: “His offending is inherently underpinned and motivated by substance misuse, which has got out of hand in the last 12 months, when he started using heroin intravenously.

“His life is chaotic and out of control. The only stabilising factor is his accommodation at Cavendish Lodge.

“Remarkably, he has been studying for a sports science degree at the University of Suffolk, but has not been able to manage because of drug misuse.

“He wishes to emphasise he would like to be assessed for suitability for a drug rehabilitation requirement.

“He is clearly an intelligent man, who used to be a personal trainer, and would like to get back to university and make something of his life.

“Given his circumstances and willingness to engage with the probation service, it seems now is an ideal time to intervene, before his substance misuse continues to drive inquisitive crime.

“He is a man who has insight into his problems, but has been paralysed by them.”

The court heard how Douglas failed to comply with a drug rehabilitation requirement imposed in 2017, but was now asking for help to tackle his addiction.

The probation service said Douglas displayed a clear pattern of offending due to drug use, and was embarrassed and ashamed that replacing alcohol with drugs as a “temporary form of escape” had taken control of his life.

Magistrates handed him a year-long community order, including a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement. He was also ordered to pay compensation to H&M.

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